Author's Note: I had a lot of problems uploading this chapter. Hopefully the format is okay now. Please let me know if something is wrong.
Thank you for all of your support with this story! For your patience, I'm leaving a small surprise at the end of the chapter. ;)
Chapter Fifteen: New Dimensions to the Case
There were a handful of times that Charlene found herself sitting down at her small, oval kitchen table with Vanessa looming over her with the perfect representation of her ex-husband's scowl, and each and every time Charlene would calmly explain to the imaginative teenager that her ex-husband was not evil. The accusations had become part of their routine whenever Vanessa was left alone with her ex-husband, and Charlene had begun to suspect that this was her daughter's way of "acting out" and dealing with the divorce. Her daughter was tough when it came to handling difficult situations, but she seemed to be much like her ex-husband when it came to being rational.
This time, though, Charlene was sitting down in a cheap, black metal chair at a cold, gray, rectangular table and confined in a small, dimly lit space that was a far cry from her bright and comfortable kitchen. Instead of her daughter sitting across from her, a detective with broad shoulders and a thick beard took her place, throwing questions after question at her until the questions had turned into accusation after accusation.
Over and over again, Charlene affirmed and reaffirmed that her ex-husband was not the evil menace that they were trying to make him out to be. Their divorce had nothing to do with him being evil; they had just wanted different things in life. Yes, he was a wonderful father who loved his child more than anything. No, he had never done anything explicably criminal, except for the treatment he gave his pet platypus one time. He was also horrible with money, but that wasn't particularly criminal.
"He locks his pet platypus in a small cage and is in need of money?" the detective repeated, raising a skeptical eyebrow at her. Charlene had opted out of asking for a lawyer, knowing that there had to be some type of mistake here. She just needed to sort things out.
By the sounds of things, she wasn't doing an incredibly good job at it.
"Look." Her voice was heavy and tired. She had been roaming the Tri-State Area, recruiting searchers, and making dozens of phone calls since Linda had called her in the morning. It felt as though days had gone by instead of mere hours. "My ex-husband is with our daughter. If he isn't picking up his phone, then he certainly will." She snatched the pen and paper that they had placed in front f her and wrote down Vanessa's cell phone number. "Here, call her."
The detective grunted, looking over the number on the paper. Charlene couldn't help but notice how weary the man across from her seemed, and she couldn't help but wonder if he, too, had been doing as much as her since this morning.
Without a word, he stuck out his hand towards the two-way mirror, beckoning someone from the darker room to enter the interrogation room. A few seconds later, a police officer entered, bending down for the detective to quietly whisper instructions as he handed the police officer the paper. As the police officer exited the room once more, the detective turned his attention back to Charlene.
"I'm sorry to ask you this again, ma'am," the detective said, sounding more tired than apologetic, "but what is your ex-husband's profession again?"
Charlene dreaded this question. At most social events, the subject would eventually be brought up about what her ex-husband does as a career, and she always had to answer the same way: "He's out of work. I think he's trying to be an inventor, but I really think he should just stick to the arts."
"So, he doesn't work?" That was all anyone ever got out of her explanation. It didn't matter that her ex-husband was a very creative and artistic man; it just mattered that he hardly brought home a paycheck and had to mooch off his ex-wife.
"I'm getting tired of repeating myself."
Fortunately, Charlene didn't have to repeat herself again as the policeman reentered the interrogation room. A long, overdue breath started to work its way out of the distraught woman, but before Charlene could exhale, the policeman delivered his news.
"We cannot contact Vanessa Doofenshmirtz."
Worry edged its way into a large lump in Charlene's throat that she could not swallow back down. "Vanessa always answer her cell!" she proclaimed aloud, hastily grabbing her own cell phone from her pocket. She pressed the first speed dial option and held the cell to her ear. "Maybe she's not answering because she didn't recognize the number."
It was a lame excuse, as Charlene was positive that her daughter would recognize the number for the Danville Police Station, but she also realized that her daughter was a teenager. Any teenager would be reluctant to answer calls from the police.
"Please put your call on speaker." Charlene didn't need to be told twice as her cell started calling Vanessa's number. She place her cell on the table, pressing the speaker option on it so that they could all listen to her daughter explain the situation on the phone.
Ring... Ring... Ring...
Charlene's nervous eyes looked up at the police officer and the detective before resuming their position on the phone. She kept looking back and forth between the two as the cell simply produced the sound of Vanessa's phone ringing.
Ring... Ring... Ring... Ring... Ring...
"Hello," an automated, female voice finally answered. "You have reached the automated voice messaging system of ... Vanessa... Who is not available to answer your call—"
Charlene hung up the line, quickly redialing her daughter's number. "This is weird. (Ring...) She usually always answers her cell. (Ring...) That was the agreement we had when I got her the phone. (Ring...) Maybe she's using the bathroom (Ring...) or she's in the shower. (Ring...) Heinz may even have her not (Ring...) answer her phone during dinner. (Ring...) He's old-fashioned like that with his family values (Ring...) sometimes."
"Hello, you have reached the automated voice messaging system of—"
Hanging the call up again, Charlene was about to press the "redial" button when she caught the detective shaking his head at her.
"Ms. Doofenshmirtz," he began, "I'm afraid that we can't wait any longer. We need to send someone down there now. Your daughter's life could very well be in danger."
A horrible, blood-freezing sensation took over her body as she experienced the same feelings that Linda had when discovering that her son was missing. Heinz couldn't... He wouldn't...
The door burst open. "Charlene, please do not say anything more."
"Who are you?" the detective immediately inquired, but he seemed to retract his question as another man entered through the doorway.
"I am representing both Charlene and Roger Doofenshmirtz in this investigation. My name is Justin. Justin Doofenshmirtz."
Not having a cell phone made calling the police a bit more difficult for Django. He had already tried interrupting his father's meeting, but when he told the secretary just what he had seen and needed to report, she told him to stop watching so much television. Embarrassed and frustrated, Django tried to dramatically burst through the meeting doors, but the building's security made sure that this was not accomplished either.
"C'mon, c'mon," he muttered under his breath as a skinny man with an enormous mustache and a large, weird hairstyle continued talking on the public phone. It was the only one within the mile that he could use, so he had to wait out the chatty man's time.
"—yes, yes. I heard about it. I don't know why he would be behind it, though. It doesn't seem like something he would be a part of."
If this was a cartoon, a vein would be visibly pulsating through Django's forehead and steam would be coming out of his ears. This was real life, however, and there was nothing but desperation in a boy's eyes. That robot had to be a part of this! What if Phineas and Ferb were inside that thing! They could be in real trouble right now!
"Excuse me," Django finally spoke up, tugging on the extremely tall man's long, white coat to catch his attention. He must have been a pharmacist.
The man purposely ignored him, shifting his slim body so that his coat tugged out of Django's grip.
"Hey! I need to make an emergency phone call to the police!"
This succeeded in getting the man to pay attention to Django. He turned, staring suspiciously at Django's small form as he held his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. "For what?"
The words "none of your business" were on the tip of Django's tongue, but he refrained from verbally using them. "I have information to give the police on the kids who went missing!"
All of the skepticism in the man's expression vanished after Django's words sunk in. He didn't even say goodbye to the person he was talking to as he hung up the phone. "What do you know?"
The strange man hadn't moved from his spot in front of the phone, forcing Django to tell the man what he had seen. "A large robot just flew overhead, and it was heading towards the desert! I'm friends with the kids that went missing in Danville, and I know that they're capable of creating that!"
Unlike Django, Phineas and Ferb were masters at creating large works. They had helped him to create an enormous replica of his art on the Unpainted Desert, though it ended up mysteriously disappearing just as the majority of their inventions do. A robot of that size seemed right up their alley.
"This better not be a joke," the strange man finally quipped, stepping away from the phone booth. "You said they were heading towards the desert, right?"
"Yeah, but—hey! Where are you..." Django trailed off when he realized that the man wasn't going to stop running in order to answer him. He stared after him for a few more seconds before he realized that the phone was free.
Since Django was making an emergency call, he didn't have to insert any coins before he dialed nine-one-one. It didn't hit him until the phone started to ring on the other line that he was calling the police—something he had always been trained to do as a child, but never actually expected to put into use. His hands trembled as the phone rang again, and his mind almost drew a blank as an authoritative, female voice answered the call.
"Uh, yes, I, uh, have some important information for the police... It's about the missing kids."
Django could only hope that the police believed him.
There was so much to remember about that fateful day that it felt as if they had forgotten a lifetime. Isabella's outburst had been the one of the minor issues that needed to be addressed, even if Candace, as a fellow girl, didn't want to diminish the importance of that issue.
"What just happened?"
Vanessa's sincerely confused tone sounded over the intercom. At first, Candace wanted to sarcastically retort that they had obviously gotten their memories of the day the second dimension was discovered, but then she remembered another vital fact: Vanessa hadn't been with them during their fight against the Normbots.
"Were you in Danville when the huge disaster happened? When the buildings and cars were suddenly broken and smashed? It looked like a tornado hit the place, or an earthquake, or something." Candace tried to picture the brunette during their fight with the Normbots, but she couldn't even picture the girl as one of the civilians that simply ran away from the scene.
"No. I left my dad's place that morning to go to my mom's," she responded. "...I missed something important, didn't I?"
"Yes," a few voices chorused over the intercom.
"And it involved my dad, didn't it?"
"Don't tell me... Did one of his evil schemes actually work?"
"Hey," Jeremy suddenly spoke up. "Your dad was the guy that I gave guitar lessons to once. He mentioned some crazy thing about aliens back then... Was he being serious?"
"I'm kind of understanding why you have blond hair."
"Hey!" Candace snapped, jumping to her boyfriend's defense. "Look, your dad made some second dimension machine that allowed his evil counterpart to come to our dimension and take over Danville."
"Ugh. Normal girls would be surprised at this, but here I am not even wondering how he did it."
"Candace," Isabella's meek voice caused the older girl to look over at her. The normally high-spirited Fireside Girl was looking pale.
"What's wrong?" Candace immediately blurted out, making sure that her finger was off the intercom button.
Isabella's lower lip quivered, but she somehow found the strength to suck up her nerves as she solemnly whispered, "You don't think... You don't think Phineas is in the second dimension with that guy, do you?"
That guy. That guy with the scar across his eye patch. That guy that tried to force her little brothers to build them the second dimensionator. That guy that tried to feed them to that monster. That guy that sent killer robots after them.
That guy that would have killed Phineas, Ferb, and Perry if it hadn't been for a stupid backstory being resolved.
Suddenly, Candace was looking a tad pallid herself.
"That's exactly what we're afraid of," Carl said, bringing the attention back to him. "We've gathered evidence that has lead us to believe that the second dimension is involved with Phineas' abduction, and from what our agents have uncovered, our main suspect is known as The Regurgitator." At the look of the kids in the cockpit, Carl coughed. "Yes, well, in our dimension he was a fearsome villain that was taken down by Agent P and Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and he's still in our high-security prison." Though Carl tried to appear stoic, his worried and fearful expression crept through as he continued his announcement. "It's believed that the Regurgitator from the second dimension is the one who is behind this."
"What would he want with Phineas and Ferb?" Irvine asked the question that everyone was thinking. Unlike Candace, though, he and his older brother seemed to be sharing equally horror-stricken looks. Whatever optimism they had given Irvine earlier had gone right out the window.
"That, we do not know, but we're going to find out soon."
"Oh, yeah? How? We're not in the second dimension, nasal-breath," Buford snapped over the intercom. His normal, gruff tone helped to calm Candace's screaming nerves, and she calmed down even more as Baljeet resumed his usual banter with his bully.
"Well, duh," Baljeet answered back, defending Carl. "But you forget that Phineas and Ferb told us that I built one in the second dimension. I can build another one if I just get the right tools."
"There isn't a large enough power grid for that."
"Okay, then what do you expect us to do?" Vanessa sounded exasperated over the intercom. "We didn't build a giant robot just to look cool."
"Actually, I expect you guys to follow the coordinates that I'm uploading to your navigational system."
Just as Carl finished speaking, a small blip on their navigational pad alerted the group that the coordinates had been uploaded. All of the people in the head walked over to it in order to check out the new destination.
"That's seems kinda far," Gretchen murmurs. "We're fast, but it'll definitely be night by the time we get there."
"Where are we going?" Candace asked, not even bothering to turn to look at Carl.
"You guys are going to the location of the only other dimensionator in existence."
Albert frowned and crossed his arms over his chest, obviously not trusting someone else to have the intelligence and, in Candace's opinion, nerdiness to build something so hi-tech. "Who?"
"Uh, good to know you're not alone there, Vanessa."
"Shut up, Johnson."
Carl didn't respond to their reaction, instead focusing on getting back into contact with Admiral Acronym. Unlike Major Monogram, Carl liked to keep in touch with all the departments in the Agency, and this included keeping an eye on the evil inventions that the scientists created.
Back when the second dimensionator had been created, Carl remembered feeling a sense of dèjá vu. He had waited until the entire situation had blown over in order to look through the weapons database. Surprisingly, Professor Poofenplotz had created a handheld ray gun that sent people to another dimension. It had taken O.W.C.A. forever to get the minimum-wage grocery clerk back to their dimension, but the incident had never received much attention.
Unfortunately, O.W.C.A. never apprehended the device. Professor Poofenplotz had chosen a different creation to use that day, and that was the one that Pinky had gotten the blueprints for, which wasn't really the agent's fault. At the very least he had been able to provide knowledge of the device's existence, which led to them saving the minimum-wage grocery clerk.
Admiral Acronym's face finally appeared on the screen, and though Carl had not said or outwardly expressed any emotion, she seemed prepared to receive bad news. Putting on his professional face, Carl began to fill her in on the situation.
"I have been in contact with Agent Pinky and Agent Peter the Panda of your sector." Raised eyebrows from the Admiral expressed her surprise at this, but she allowed him to finish up speaking before asking questions. "They've discovered the real suspect behind the kidnapping: The Regurgitator of the second dimension."
With wide eyes, Admiral Acronym backed a bit away from the screen, visibly shaken. "The Regurgitator? From the second dimension? The same felon Agent P of your sector had difficulty taking down? From the second dimension?"
"Yes," Carl cut in before she could get in another question. "The children discovered the magazine used to make the note, and the address matches The Regurgitator's of our dimension, but it's encoded in the other dimension's locations during the second dimension Dr. Doofenshmirtz's reign."
"Back up," Admiral Acronym ordered, already over her initial shock. "The children discovered the magazine? Do you have contact with them?"
"Yes, they've built some sort of combative robot and are heading towards Professor Poofenplotz's residence."
"They should be there by nightfall. I'll fill them in on the next course of action when they reach her residence."
Carl bit his lower lip, mentally preparing himself to look at the woman's face. When he looked up at the screen, he was graced by the most fear-inducing look of outrage that he had ever seen in his life. Admiral Acronym was practically beaming red as her nostrils flared with every short breath she took.
"I did not just hear a lowly, unpaid intern tell me that he sent a bunch of children over to an evil scientist's lair—a bunch of children that have been reported missing and possibly kidnapped!"
"Phineas and Ferb's older sister has fought in the second dimension before, and the other kids participated in the fight against the Normbots, so they had the advantage—"
"There is no advantage! If you would be so kind as to remember, you zapped them with the amnesia-nator!" Even through the screen Admiral Acronym could spot Carl's fearful look. Her eyes widened considerably once more. "You didn't... Tell me that you didn't!"
"I didn't...do it without thinking," Carl tentatively responded. "Our animal agents can't all go to the second dimension, and Agent Pinky, Agent Peter the Panda, and, of course, Agent P will be with them."
"O.W.C.A. is not going to be held responsible for involving and endangering children! And it was not your call to make!" Breathing deeply, Admiral Acronym regained her composure, staring at Carl gravely. "Until further notice, on behalf of O.W.C.A., you are hereby suspended from your position."
Though it was still a slap in the face, Carl hadn't expected anything less from a superior of O.W.C.A. Major Monogram may have tried to cover up Carl's faults and take responsibility for them, but in this situation, he would have had Carl suspended too.
Still, this wasn't a matter that he could hide from the agency. He wouldn't be able to be a member of O.W.C.A. if he kept this to himself.
"We'll handle the rest from here," Admiral Acronym continued before the screen cancelled out. "Over and out."
For a moment, Carl just stared at the blank screen, thinking over what he had just done and what he was going to do. Soft beeps from the computers and machines filled the room as the graveness of his decision weighed in. There were so many things that could go wrong, and now he was not going to have a safety net to fall back on. Major Monogram wouldn't be back in time to help Carl with the next step.
He wasn't alone, though. He still had Agent Pinky, Peter the Panda, and Agent P who were all willing to stay under his command. Agent Pinky wouldn't have contacted him if the tiny Chihuahua hadn't trusted him with his owner's safety, and Peter the Panda, who was all about the job, would never have helped Agent Pinky if he didn't have confidence in Carl's abilities.
Speaking of the two, Carl started a new transmission with them. "Agent Pinky, head over to Professor Poofenplotz's lair to meet with Isabella and the others. We're heading to the second dimension."
It felt strange being in the penthouse without any sign of Agent P or Dr. Doofenshmirtz. For one, it was completely silent without any of the loud, nasally rambling of the building's owner. The only thing that seemed relatively ordinary about the place was that it was a partially destroyed mess. Magazines littered the tiled floor along with debris from the destroyed balcony area. It certainly looked like a battle between Agent P and Dr. Doofenshmirtz waged in here just moments ago.
Night had nearly fallen, and the cool air was especially drafty in the apartment due to the gaping hole. Magazine pages flapped from the breeze, making the quiet penthouse sound even more abandoned.
"There are no children here." Once again, they were given a dead lead. As calm as Major Monogram tried to appear, he was getting frustrated. His best agent was missing, and the lives of children were at stake! By the time they get a real lead, it will be because they already exhausted all the other ones!
A heavy sigh escaped Major Monogram as he realized that he would have to go back to Carl, who was probably waiting on toes for him, to deliver more disappointing news. He drooped his shoulders, preparing to head out of the now-dark apartment.
The feeling of a boot connecting with the back of his head was the last thing he could remember.
Perry refused to let go of Ferb's hand as they made their way through what appeared to be a second dictatorship of Danville. Nighttime had crept upon them quickly, and though the darkness provided an easy cover for them, it also provided an advantage to their enemies that knew the layout of this dimension. If they stopped, they would be cornered, and if they kept going, they would eventually be spotted. The only option they had was to keep going and hope that they stumbled upon the headquarters of the Resistance, if there was one still around.
Ferb's weight suddenly shifted, and Perry tightened his grip on his hand as Ferb feel to the hard ground. Peering through the darkness, Perry could see that his nemesis had toppled over right onto Ferb.
"Ugh, sorry," Doofenshmirtz grunted out, gingerly picking himself off of Ferb. "I think I lost a kidney or two back there."
"That could be problematic," Ferb quipped, allowing Perry to heave him back to his feet. They still held hands, and just from this fact Perry could tell that his owner was terrified of his surroundings and the prospect that Phineas was alone in them. Even at night there seemed to be a reddish smog that coated the land, giving the place quite the hellish appearance.
Realizing that they had stopped, which Perry had internally warned himself against doing, he slowly started to lead the way again. He was worried over his nemesis' condition, but if he really required medical attention, then they all needed to keep moving. If only there was a car that Doofenshmirtz could hotwire for them, though that would cause a lot more attention then three characters lurking through the back roads and shadows.
"Where are we going, anyway?" Doofenshmirtz huffed, trying to keep his voice low while still sounding coherent. Neither Ferb nor Perry answered him; Ferb had no idea where his pet was leading them, and Perry was a platypus. He could not speak.
Shoe soles scraping against the concrete wall caught Perry's attention, and he forcibly stopped the two humans behind him. When the sound didn't cease, he looked around the narrow road they had turned down, spotting some trashcans sitting in an alleyway. It wasn't the best of options, but the exterior would completely hide their forms and the smell would deter people from checking there as long as none of them jostled the garbage cans.
This time, Perry jerked Ferb forward, ushering the boy off towards the trashcans. Being the brilliant boy that Ferb is, he quickly got the hint and ran for cover. Being the oblivious, evil scientist that Doofenshmirtz is, Perry grabbed the sleeve of his white lab coat and dragged him off to the hiding place.
They waited with bated breaths as a shadowed figure appeared at the top of the concrete wall. The figure was rather small, but Perry didn't count out the danger the person or animal could represent. He watched with narrowed eyes as the figure dropped to the ground below, landing on the ground with a soft thud. For some reason, though, the drop seemed to take a lot out of the figure as he leaned against the concrete wall, visibly shaking as he seemed to be trying to catch his breath.
Shuffling from beside him caused Perry to look away from the figure to see that his owner was cautiously exiting the hiding spot and walking towards the shadowy figure.
Perry's heart skipped a beat as he lunged at Ferb, quickly grabbing the boy's arm to try to drag him back to the hiding spot. This action was enough to catch the figure's attention.
"Huh... Ferb? Perry?"
Time seemed to stop as the figure approached them; his infamous triangular-shaped head more apparent and scared, tired, and relieved blue eyes stared at the two of them. Perry felt numb, unable to even process who was standing in front of them.
"Phineas..." Ferb whispered, trying to bring them both out of the shock. His voice cracked as he repeated his brother's name, and despite the fact that they were trying to maintain cover, he screamed: "PHINEAS!" and rushed to embrace him.